Bethalto East Primary School (2023)
- Number of Students: 370
- Percent Eligible for Free and Reduced Lunch: 61%
- Percent of Limited English Proficient: 0%
- Percent of Special Education: 15%
- White: 90%
- Black: 7%
- Hispanic: 0%
- Asian: 0%
- Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander: 0%
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
- Multiracial: 2%
- Other: 0%
***PROMISING PRACTICES SCHOOL***
Our journey to becoming a Professional Learning Community began with a commitment to become a PLC district where each of the five schools worked cohesively to engage in the PLC at Work process. We kicked off our learning journey by attending the PLC Institute in St. Charles, Missouri, where school and district administrators spent three days attending break-out sessions and absorbing as much information as possible to bring back to our schools. We also formed a guiding coalition to help lead our building through the collaborative learning process and got the opportunity to participate in professional development led by Dr. Luis Cruz. Dr. Cruz led us through the process of establishing our purpose as a guiding coalition, which has continued to provide our team with a shared understanding of our role as lead learners.
At the start of our first year, we worked collectively with faculty and staff to develop a shared mission, vision, and collective commitments. At our first staff meeting, our guiding coaltion shared the why behind PLCs, our school's academic, behavior, and cultural data picture, including data from the Illinois 5Essentials, and engaged in staff professional development on the 4 pillars of a PLC. We also read the article "One Step at a Time," accessible through AllThingsPLC, and worked collaboratively to answer the following reflective questions:
What is the best creative title you can produce to describe the unique characteristics and challenges the team at your stage is facing?
What are 3 unique characteristics and challenges teams at your stage are facing?
What support does the team at your stage need to advance into higher more effective stages of collaboration?
We gathered together again to establish our shared mission and vision. We lead staff through capacity building professional development by delving into Learning By Doing and reading rationale for clarifying our mission (p. 38) and rationale for clarifying our vision (p. 39). We also assessed our current reality as it related to the cultural and behavioral shifts indicative of PLC (p. 258) and our Illinois 5Essentials data. We also looked at strong vision statements from successful companies and identified what they all had in common. Teams of teachers and paraprofessionals worked together to create a mission statement around our strengths and areas of growth, and teams completed a survey answering questions to guide the work of our PLC and questions on what it would like when we are the most improved or top-performing school in our region, state, and country. Our guiding coalition synthesized survey responses to develop our vision statement, which was brought to back to staff for consideration. To determine our school's collective commitments, staff reviewed evidence from successful schools on All Things PLC, tight and loose elements of a PLC, and why we articulate collective commitments. We utilized the fist to five strategy to build consensus around our commitments. To establish a culture of celebration, we went back to Learning by Doing and engaged in shared learning by reading and discussing pages 222-223. Collective expectations and responsbilities regarding celebration were also defined and are revisited regularly. To foster our culture of celebration, opportunities to celebrate colleagues are built into every staff meeting with a focus on tying celebrations to our mission, vision, and collective commitments.
Collectively building our school's foundational pillars was only the beginning, though. Ensuring that our mission, vision, and collective commitments live off the wall and that all of OUR students learn and achieve at high levels, is an ongoing process requiring relentless focus on the work of PLCs and continued dedication to fostering interdependence. Our PLC has remained diligent in maintaining our focus on learning, and has continued to embed collaborative and results-oriented practices into our culture, which we celebrate at every opportunity!
1. Monitoring student learning on a timely basis.
Grade level content area Professional Learning Teams (PLTs) utilized the REAL criteria (Relevance, Endurance, Assessment, Leverage) to identify essential learning standards. After determining what is essential for all students to know and defining the standard in student-friendly languge, they established learning targets, examples of rigor, prerequisite skills, when the standard is taught, common end-of-unit assessments, and what proficiency looks like. PLTs will utilize common assessments to measure ongoing progress towards mastery and to collaboratively analyze data throughout units with the purpose of monitoring learning and responding to students who do and do not reach proficiency. This is an ongoing process of continuous improvement where teams utilize data from their assessments to improve instruction.
Building teams have engaged in capacity building professional development on building a comprehensive assessment system, common assessment implementation considerations, and unit planning processes and protocols. Teams are preparing to establish common pacing and assessments within each unit of study and will follow protocols for frequently analyzing data collaboratively to support high levels of learning for teachers and students.
2. Creating systems of intervention to provide students with additional time and support for learning.
The continuum of services does not start over when the new year begins. Ongoing intervention support across academic years is monitored closely to ensure a continuation of services. Our PLTs also analyze universal screening data and administer beginning of the year common assessments to drive differentiated small group instruction within the classroom. We regularly monitor progress to measure the success of interventions and extension and respond by continuously adjusting instruction when students do or do not achieve growth towards proficiency and beyond. Our multi-tiered system of support is systemic and involves a collaborative process of analyzing data and developing a response collectively.
3. Building teacher capacity to work as members of high performing collaborative teams that focus efforts on improved learning for all students.
We have continued to strengthen our collaborative culture of collective teacher efficacy by embedding the collaborative practices defined in Learning By Doing: A Handbook for Professional Learning Communities (DuFour et al., 2006). PLTs have established team meeting roles, norms which honor the needs of team members, and team agendas aligned with the four critical questions of a PLC. We continue to build our collective capacity by providing ongoing professional development on creating a guaranteed and viable curriculum, collaboration, and building and utilizing a comprehensive assessment system, as defined in Common Formative Assessment: A Toolkit for Professional Learning Communities at Work (Bailey & Jakicic, 2023).
Achievement Data Files
Additional Achievement Data
Our school leadership team, guiding coaltion, and professional learning teams utilize longitudinal achievement data to establish school PLC and grade level PLT SMART goals to guide their work. Best practice action steps are driven by data and collective inquiry to clarify what all students must know and be able to do. Teams analyze data for trends, strengths, and areas for growth. We collaboratively monitor progress towards goal and use data sources to assess the effectiveness of initiatives.
2019 ASCD Whole Child School Award